A Shooting on Elm Street – Part II

From Part I:

Duval announced, “He’s down. He’s down.”

Mac responded. “I’m hit!” At that time, the thought occurred to him to remain still since he had been hit near his spine; he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

If you missed part I: Part I of The Elm Street Shooting
Continuing, Part II:

Detective Ron Duval

Duval, like his partner, Alec MacArthur, was newly assigned to the gang unit, but he was also a seasoned patrol deputy on the streets of Firestone. He recalls that he and Mac were working an overtime spot that night, and they were both thrilled to be partnered up in the gang unit.

There was a “923s” (shots fired) call on Elm Street, and he and Mac drove into the alley west of the 8800 block where the problem had been reported. They knew there was a particular residence that was home to notorious gangsters and a constant source of criminal activity in the area. When they arrived at the end of a walkway that connects the alley and Elm Street, Mac started through the walkway while Ron contacted an older Hispanic male in the alley. The man didn’t speak English, but when asked, he was able to understand that the deputies wanted to know where the shooting had come from. The man pointed to Elm Street.

Ron Duval entered the narrow walkway and saw Mac ahead of him, nearly to Elm Street. Mac had his gun in one hand, and a handheld radio and a burning cigarette held in the other. He recognized the roar of distant engines to be that of responding radio cars. Immediately after, he heard the sounds of someone running on the street, hasty footsteps in the dark. A man came around the corner at a run and bumped into Mac, the two of them brushing shoulders. Mac and the other man ended up just feet apart, each turning to face the other as they passed. Each man was pointing a gun at the other, and Duval found himself down range from a gunfight with nowhere to go.

The gangster fired. Mac fired back. Flames erupted from his gun that he held low and tight to his body. Duval could see that Mac still had a burning cigarette and a radio in his other hand. Bullets whizzed past Duval as the gangster between him and his partner fell to the ground. Mac turned and ran toward the other end of the alley, and suddenly dove around the corner. (Duval would later learn that his partner had been hit, and as a result, he had fallen rather than dived as he scrambled around the corner.) Duval retreated for cover at the west end of the walkway as his partner did the same on the east end.

Duval came up with his gun ready to fire at the suspect, but he wasn’t sure where his partner was. He started into the walkway again, approaching the suspect, just as Mac began firing again, skipping rounds off of the concrete walkway toward the suspect who lay prone on the ground. Again, bullets hissed and snapped as they whizzed past Duval. He again hastily retreated to the alley west of the walkway for cover.

Duval went to the car to broadcast on the radio that there was a shooting. He heard Deputy Lopez’s voice, excitedly stating over the airwaves that there were “923s.” Duval keyed his mic and corrected: “No, it’s 998! (Deputies involved in a shooting), 998!”

A radio car arrived in the alley, and two Firestone patrol deputies joined Duval. The three of them entered the walkway and Duval called out to his partner. “Mac? Mac?”

“I’m hit, Ronnie! I’m hit,” Mac cried out.

As they passed the downed suspect, Duval saw that he was no longer a threat, gasping his final breaths. Duval got to his partner at about the time Deputy Magana did, and the two of them inspected Mac to find that his Kevlar vest had done its job, stopping the bullet that had struck him.

Deputy Rich Lopez

Rich Lopez was a six-year veteran patrol deputy at Firestone.

That night, he was working with a trainee who had recently been assigned to him for the evaluation stage of his training program. The young deputy’s name was David Powell. In 2002, Deputy Powell would be killed by gunfire, as documented in my Memorial Day blog, A Tribute to Fallen Colleagues. Ironically, Lopez, by then a six-year veteran homicide detective, was dispatched to assist with a murdered deputy investigation. He only learned after arriving at the scene that it was his former trainee who had been killed.

Lopez recalls the night Mac was shot. There had been several consecutive nights where 923s had been reported at the same location. Each time they responded, the streets were empty. He suspected it was the Bishop gang members who were doing the shooting, and he further suspected they were getting away by running through the alley. On this night, he coordinated with Mac and Duval who would come in from the alley behind the location.

Lopez recalls coming in from Firestone Boulevard, south on Elm Street. He passed by the walkway and stopped. Within seconds, shots were fired. Lopez could see muzzle flashes at the mouth of the walkway. He saw Mac come around the corner and “hit the deck,” and then “buttonhook.” Mac now lay prone, facing into the walkway from where he had come, and he fired again. Lopez could only see Mac on the ground, not the threat with whom he was engaged.

The shooting stopped. Lopez heard the radio broadcasts that confirmed units from stations near and far were responding to the assistance request. Lopez—believing there could be a second suspect—told Magana to coordinate the response of additional units in order to contain the area.

Mac called out, “I’m hit!” Hearing the announcement had startled Lopez, and he went to Mac where he lay motionless on the ground. Lopez remembers seeing that the bullet had been stopped by Mac’s vest. Lopez told him so, and they stood him up. The two had been friends since before the academy; Mac’s first words to his buddy and classmate Rich Lopez were, “Give me a cigarette.”

Deputy Ernesto Magana

Magana – Firestone Station

Ernie Magana, another great street cop from Firestone, remembers the night well:

“It was cold that night. I had been on some type of detail to a local hospital, or maybe Lynwood station. I was by myself, so it seems that maybe I was assigned as the jailer that night and was returning from a detail. All I know is that when the call went out, I was near the location, and I responded. When I arrived, Mac was laying on the sidewalk like he was paralyzed. I left my car and ran to him, asking if he was okay. He said, ‘I’ve been shot! I’ve been shot in the back.’ Mac was afraid to move because he knew he had been hit in the back and he didn’t know how bad it was.

Mac’s vest and jacket showing the bullet hole

“I saw a bullet hole in the back of his raid jacket. I lifted his jacket and saw a bullet hole in the vest beneath it. I looked under the vest and saw that the bullet had not penetrated his vest.”

In addition to being a great cop, Magana is known as a comedian. Not in the literal sense, but he is a funny man who is always clowning around, laughing, smiling, and enjoying life. Even at times of extreme duress, Magana could be counted on to be cool and offer levity. Mac told me that when Magana came to him and checked his back, he said: “Get up, stupid, you aren’t shot; the bullet is in your vest.” (With his Spanish accent, “stupid” was always pronounced “stupit.” Mac recalled it fondly.)

Ernie Magana laughed when I told him what Mac recalled him saying that night. Magana said, “Yeah, that sounds about right. I just remember he literally jumped up when I said it.”

Relieved that Mac hadn’t been shot, the two cops hugged. The bad guy lay motionless a few feet away.

Unit Responding to the Assistance Request

Sirens blared from all directions as units responded to the radio broadcasts that an officer-involved shooting had occurred and a deputy was down. Deputies from neighboring Lynwood and as far away as Carson and Lennox had responded to the scene, all of them rolling hard, Code-3 because a deputy was down. One of the Firestone units responding had turned onto Elm Street and lost control of their vehicle, crashing into a parked car. Neither the driver nor the passenger was injured.

Paramedics arrived and evaluated Mac. His back stung and he had scrapes on his hands and arms from crawling on the pavement, but he was otherwise in good shape.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

To be continued.

Next week: a shooting on elm street, part III

He slept uneasily that night and returned to the office late the next morning, only to hear that another deputy-involved shooting had occurred in Firestone.

* * *


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